Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has maintained close ties to the Kremlin since Russia invaded its pro-Western neighbour, vetoed a four-year, 50 billion euro ($54 billion) EU aid package for Kyiv back in December.
Orban's stance has left the European Union scrambling to secure a financial lifeline for Ukraine, made even more crucial with the US Congress deadlocked over future funds for the war effort, which is about to enter its third year.
In Brussels, officials have all but run out of patience with Orban and his brinksmanship over issues ranging from Ukraine and NATO to EU-mandated reforms at home.
EU lawmakers have repeatedly likened his demands to “blackmail,” AFP reports.
“It's no coincidence that the EU member state that most often violates our shared values, that violates the rule of law, meaning Hungary, is also the member state that is consistently outside the EU consensus over aid to Ukraine,” Anna Luehrmann, Germany's minister for Europe, told reporters.
Luehrmann called it “absolutely unacceptable” that Hungary was also holding out on ratifying Sweden's membership in NATO, having suggested the fellow EU state should “negotiate” to win its backing.
She urged the European Union to “harden” the tools at its disposal to bring Hungary into line.
The Financial Times reported Monday that a confidential proposal circulating in Brussels called for shutting off all EU funding to Budapest, with the aim of spooking investors and sabotaging Hungary's fragile economy, should it refuse to play ball.
The report drew a furious response from Budapest.
“Hungary does not give in to blackmail!” Hungary's EU minister Janos Boka wrote on X, insisting that Budapest sought to “participate constructively” in discussions.
Hungary does not give in to blackmail!— Bóka János (@JanosBoka_HU) January 28, 2024
The document, drafted by #Brussels bureaucrats only confirms what the Hungarian Government has been saying for a long time: access to EU funds is used for political blackmailing by Brussels. https://t.co/x5NExCufYm
Budapest said Monday that it had submitted a new “compromise” proposal in preparation for the summit.
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